THE STANDARD – FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016
Paris Climate Conference 2015
The outcome of the climate change conference that took place in Paris in December of 2015 was the first ever universal global climate deal. The Paris Agreement was announced on December 12, 2015, after two weeks of negotiations by representatives from 195 countries who gathered for this historic conference. The agreement aims to hold the increase in average global temperatures to “well below” 2°C (above pre-industrial levels); the preferable goal is to actually limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change.
Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, praised the deal, stating, “The Paris Agreement is probably the most important international agreement in history. Nations of the world have underlined that climate change is a threat to the security and prosperity of all societies, and can only be addressed through unity of purpose. A sustainable future benefits all of humanity.”
The representatives agreed that global emissions need to peak as soon as possible, recognizing that this will take longer for developing countries, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science. They also agreed to come together every five years to set more ambitious targets as required by science and to report to each other and the public on how well they are doing to implement their targets.
As the world celebrated reaching this unprecedented global climate deal, other countries such as India, worried they had to compromise the most. Following the finalization of the treaty, some countries verged toward complaint, indicating that there are many countries with a long history of polluting the environment and those countries should be subject to the steepest cuts in the emission of climate-warming greenhouse gases so that other still developing countries could continue to expand their economies using fossil fuels. The Paris Agreement does make distinctions between rich and poor nations in terms of various actions they should take. However, it does not address the idea of “historical responsibility” for climate change, and it leaves open the possibility of developing countries still having to make emissions cuts of their own. What is becoming clear, is that those countries could still soon face enormous pressure to do much more.
The 32-page agreement will be implemented only from 2020 — opening a window for developing countries to update their pledges in the next four years. Some experts still believe that stronger commitments are needed to meet the treaty’s goal of limiting the average global rise in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. Already, the world has warmed by 0.7 degrees Celsius.
Banning the Beads
The Microbead-Free Waters Act was signed by President Obama on December 28, 2015. The new law states that “rinse-off” cosmetic products containing plastic microbeads can no longer be manufactured or sold. The members of Congress worked together on this important issue. The co-sponsored bill was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate with Unanimous Consent. The ban on manufacturing will begin July 1, 2017, and the ban on commerce will begin July 1, 2018.
Microbeads are used as exfoliating agents in hundreds of cosmetic and skin care products. They are found in everything from facial scrubs to toothpaste. The plastic beads usually range in size from about 5 μm to 1 mm and they are made from synthetic polymers including polyethylene and polypropylene. But with a plethora of natural, non-toxic exfoliating agents available (e.g., sea salt, sugar, walnut and apricot shells, charcoal, diatomaceous earth, etc.), finding alternatives to the plastic microbeads will not be difficult.The bipartisan bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on March 4, 2015, by Representative Fred Upton (R-Michigan) and Representative Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey). “This common sense, bipartisan legislation is a win-win for consumers and our Great Lakes ecosystem,” said Upton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, when the legislation was introduced. “As someone who grew up on Lake Michigan and represents a large chunk of Michigan coastline, I understand firsthand how important it is to maintain the beauty and integrity of our Great Lakes. I will not stand for any actions that put our beloved Great Lakes in jeopardy.”
The microbeads found in cosmetics are specifically designed to be washed down drains. Due to their small size, microbeads are sometimes able to get through the filtration systems at wastewater treatment plants and be released into our streams and rivers. Pallone, who serves as Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, stated, “many people buying these products are unaware of their damaging effects on the environment. If we know that these products will eventually reach our waterways, we must make sure that they don’t contain synthetic plastic that does not biodegrade and will ultimately pollute our waterways. We have a responsibility to put a stop to this unnecessary plastic pollution.” Pallone added, “By phasing out the use of plastic microbeads and transitioning to non-synthetic alternatives, we can protect U.S. waters before it’s too late.”
Microbeads and other microplastics have made their way into our waterways, including the Great Lakes. Sarah Lowe, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator of the Marine Debris Program (MDP) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) provided her comments on this issue to The Standard. “Studies in the Great Lakes region have just begun to characterize the concentration of microplastics in surface waters and river systems. Microplastics, including microbeads, have been found in all of the Great Lakes to date with varying concentrations.”
From a conservation standpoint, many wonder about the potential dangers to the aquatic life in our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Lowe said, “Animals, including Great Lakes fish and other wildlife, can easily consume these plastic fragments, and that could injure them. In the oceans, an estimated 26 marine mammal species, including toothed whales, multiple seal species, and sea turtle species have been confirmed to ingest marine debris. Over one-third of sea bird species ingest plastic. Microplastics have been found in the stomachs of many marine and Great Lake organisms.”
From an environmental standpoint, concerns have been raised regarding persistent environmental contaminants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), being absorbed by the polyethylene/polypropylene microbeads and the possibility of those chemicals entering the food chain after ingestion by fish. Lowe commented on the environmental dangers of microplastics in waterways, stating, “Chemical additives can leach out of microplastics into the ocean or lakes; conversely, contaminants from the water may adhere to microplastics. There is ongoing research to determine whether these contaminants may transfer through the food chain.”
However, the NOAA MDP is encouraged by the passing of the Microbead-Free Waters Act, said Lowe. “This legislation will help reduce the impact of this specific type of marine debris. Marine debris is a problem that impacts everyone and is a great threat to our oceans. Ultimately the problem stems from us, and we need to continue to prevent marine debris at the source.”
Virginia DMME Proposes New Expanded Oil and Gas Regulations
Though hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in Virginia since the 1960s, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) believed that expanding disclosure of ingredients used in gas well stimulation and completion was an appropriate and necessary safeguard for the citizens of the Commonwealth. In December 2015, DMME proposed regulations that it believed reflected industry best practices such as: baseline groundwater testing and monitoring, submission of emergency response plans, and the creation of other measures to enhance well integrity.
Permit application requirements were proposed to be updated to include:
• Disclosure of “all ingredients” anticipated to be used in hydraulic fracturing operations
• A plan to conduct groundwater baseline sampling and analysis
• The submission of an emergency response plan
The proposed regulations require well operators to use the FracFocus website (http://fracfocus.org) to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations. Approximately 20 states already utilize FracFocus. The proposed regulations also contained provisions that protect trade secrets from public dissemination. However, that trade secret information will be made available to first responders and local officials in the event of an emergency.
The proposed regulations also establish a groundwater sampling, analysis, and monitoring program. Baseline sampling data within a ¼-mile radius from the proposed well are to be submitted with the permit application. After the well is completed, additional sampling is required. If that sampling demonstrates exceedances of applicable standards, DMME has the authority to order follow-up testing in addition to existing enforcement authority.
On behalf of our Virginia petroleum clients, Environmental Standards submitted comments on several aspects of the proposed regulations with respect to groundwater. In general, comments were provided in six areas of particular concern relative to groundwater:
• The regulation did not specify analytical methods
• The regulation did not specify sample filtration requirements
• The proposed dissolved-gas analyses did not specify adequate method procedures
• Seasonal variability of water quality changes was not accounted for
• Groundwater quality, in certain Virginia areas, is naturally problematic
• Commonwealth-wide single-point water quality standards should not apply
Tier 3 – Third-party Assessments
The compliance date for 40 CFR 80.47 was January 1, 2016, making regulatory compliance with its requirements a reality for petroleum testing laboratories. To date, US EPA has not yet extended enforcement discretion – meaning that US EPA could require a compliance audit at any time. Environmental Standards, Inc. (Environmental Standards), can provide third-party assurance so that your laboratory will be ready when the US EPA arrives. We can conduct a comprehensive review of data to verify compliance with method qualification requirements and the associated instrument-level statistical quality control (SQC) requirements. Our activities would include desktop review of various documents and records to verify that good laboratory practices are in place (as mentioned throughout the rule).
Comprehensive data review
Qualification criteria for precision and accuracy, and ongoing requirements for precision and accuracy SQC are outlined in 40 CFR 80.47. Facilities are required to perform calculations on newly collected data (e.g., 20 tests/20 days precision study data) and historic data (e.g., Inter-Laboratory Crosscheck Program [ILCP] data) to ensure that the requirements of the rule are met.
Environmental Standards ensures that all method qualification and SQC calculations and charts have been performed consistent with method requirements, ASTM 6299 and 40 CFR 80.47 by utilizing the Fuel SQC software, available at www.fuelsqc.com. This tool seamlessly interfaces with both native in-house and commercial laboratory information management systems (LIMSs) to allow easy data handling across all methods implemented. Charts and plots are dynamically generated to show data used to generate control limits (“setup data”) as well as newly generated or historic data.
Fuel SQC performs statistical tests to evaluate normality (Anderson-Darling) and show QQ plots for visual examination, and perform both F and t-tests to compare variance and means across data sets. Fuel SQC also facilitates evaluation of new material as it is analyzed via American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Q-procedure. To demonstrate compliance with
40 CFR 80.47, Fuel SQC calculates ASTM method reproducibility or repeatability and makes the appropriate comparison with site standard deviation in a concise dashboard display.
J. Andrew Tachovsky is a licensed Professional Engineer with over 18 years of experience in auditing, statistical analysis, and regulatory permitting and compliance. Andrew has built software for the refining industry to implement the practices in ASTM D6299 (control charting) and to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of 40 CFR 80.47 (US EPA Tier 3). Andrew has performed over 30 audits for air and waste regulatory programs, large-scale field sampling programs, and process hazard analysis for infrastructure projects.
Michael R. Green, Ph.D., MBA, CPEA has over 30 years of industry experience and over 15 years of auditing experience. He has participated in the development, implementation and management of several audit programs involving health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) compliance. Mike has served as Lead Auditor and Auditor for consent decree-required audits involving the sampling and testing of petroleum products, and as Lead Auditor and Auditor for HSSE audits nationally and internationally.
W. James Bover, Ph.D. is a Certified Quality Auditor (CQA; certified by ASQ) since 1996. He has 35 years of experience in the petroleum industry with a major oil and gas company, where he supervised both laboratories and the laboratory audit programs. Jim has conducted over 150 audits of company and contract laboratories (refinery, lube oil, environmental) in 44 countries. He has over 30 years of experience with ASTM developing standards for the petroleum industry. He is the Chair of the D2 Subcommittee on Proficiency Test Programs (PTP) and Chair of ASTM’s Committee on Certification Programs.
Designing a Quality and Data Management Program to Comply with the Coal Combustion Residual Rule
On April 17, 2015, the US EPA published the Final Rule (40 CFR Parts 257 and 261) to regulate the disposal of coal combustion residuals (CCR) as solid waste under subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The rule requires the generation of a significant amount of data through extensive groundwater sampling and analyses which must be performed every 6 months over the life of the unit and through the 30th year post closure. Groundwater monitoring will be required for all CCR units and must be in place by October 19, 2017. The monitoring program includes a variety of metals (as total recoverable metals) and water quality parameters listed in Appendix III and IV to Part 257 – Constituents for Detection Monitoring. In addition to the monitoring, the rule requires the operators to assess structural integrity of impoundments through weekly and annual inspections, and to develop formal emergency response protocols in the event of an impoundment failure.
Regarding the semiannual monitoring requirements, unit operators are required to install a system of monitoring wells, develop and execute procedures for sampling and analysis, and evaluate the data to determine if a statistically significant exceedance of background water quality exists. Exceedances shall be assessed through the comparison between upgradient and downgradient wells and must be performed within 90 days of completion of each sampling event. In the event there is an exceedance, formal notification and further monitoring actions must be implemented to assess the need for remedial action.
With such regimented sampling and analytical requirements specified under the CCR rule, it is clear there is a need for a robust quality assurance and data management program. Clearly, a spurious sample result from any well could activate formal notification and action; as such, there must be no question regarding the quality and defensibility of sampling and analytical activities. Unfortunately, that is not routinely the case. In fact, it is more the norm that something will go wrong during the sampling and/or the analytical activities that can cast doubt (which could be slight or very significant) on a particular data set. That presents a vulnerability that needs to be properly managed when conducting CCR monitoring.
When compliance is at stake and there is a need for “bullet proof” data, a thoughtful and robust quality assurance and data management program is not a luxury, it’s a fundamental necessity. Environmental Standards has direct relevant and long-term experience in designing and executing quality and data management programs associated with CCR monitoring, for both emergency response and long-term monitoring.
Contact: Rock J. Vitale, CEAC, at 610.935.5577.
3737 Chestnut Apartments and the Stephanie Yen-Mun Liem Azar Cathedral Center
Environmental Standards, Inc. (Environmental Standards) assisted an award-winning real estate development company in the Greater Philadelphia area, Radnor Property Group, with environmental issues identified during due diligence, demolition, and construction activities. Radnor Property Group planned to convert an underutilized, under-maintained, and underfunded property located in University City to a commercial and residential haven for graduate students and young professionals, as well as a local community center.
Environmental Standards’ due diligence effort, which began in late 2011, identified some areas of concern that needed further investigation and some minor remediation. During the demolition and construction phases, the project ran into a few surprises for which Radnor Property Group called on Environmental Standards’ experience and expertise to address in a timely and cost-effective manner. Over the course of Environmental Standards’ involvement in the project, heating oil-impacted soil was investigated and remediated, underground storage tanks were investigated, one historic underground storage tank was uncovered and then properly removed, and areas of soil impact were identified, investigated, and remediated. Project cost savings were achieved with the forethought of providing a clean fill certification for the majority of the soils on the site, thus reducing the disposal costs associated with soil excavation.
This property was transformed from partially occupied 90-year-old deteriorating brownstone buildings, an underutilized apartment building, and a small courtyard to a state-of-the-art 25-story apartment tower and community center. The apartment tower, 3737 Chestnut Apartments, now features 276 apartments, ground floor retail, a fitness center, a rooftop deck, and underground parking. All of these amenities are perfect for the target residents in University City, graduate students and young professionals. Adjacent to 3737 Chestnut Apartments is the Stephanie Yen-Mun Liem Azar Cathedral Center which was considered a community service and restoration project. Radnor Property Group enhanced the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral’s mission when it developed a child care center in the Cathedral’s undercroft as well as an attached three-story building for office space and the community center which now houses the new headquarters of the Diocese.
The redevelopment of the property was completed with the grand opening marking the occasion in November 2015.
Data Management Considerations for Fenceline Monitoring at Petroleum Refineries
In September of 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) finalized the ruling on the residual risk and technology review conducted for the Petroleum Refinery source categories regulated under National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) Refinery Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) 1 and Refinery MACT 2. The final rule is published under 40 CFR Parts 60 and 63.
There are a number of data management considerations associated with this new regulation as it relates to fenceline monitoring (§63.658), and with
2 years until implementation, there is an opportunity to get ahead of the associated costs with fenceline monitoring.
New Monitoring Stations and Biweekly Measurements
Depending on the size of the refinery, up to 24 new passive air monitoring stations may be required. Each station is sampled on a biweekly basis, and the following information must be recorded:
• Coordinates of all passive monitoring, including replicate samplers and field blanks, and the meteorological station.
The owner or operator shall determine the coordinates using an instrument with an accuracy of at least 3 meters. The coordinates shall be in decimal degrees with at least five decimal places.
• The start and stop times and dates for each sample, as well as the sample tube identifying information.
• Daily unit vector wind direction, calculated daily sigma theta (sigma theta is a measure of horizontal wind direction fluctuations), daily average temperature and daily average barometric pressure measurements.
Outlier and Background Source Contribution
Once the samples have been collected and analyzed, a determination of outlier results and any background adjustments will be completed. For each outlier determined in accordance with Section 9.2 of Method 325A of Appendix A in the regulation, the sampler location and the concentration of the outlier and the evidence will be used to conclude that the result is an outlier.
If the owner or operator identifies an off-site upwind source or an on-site source excluded under §63.640(g) that contributes to the benzene concentration at any passive monitor and collects background samples according to an approved site-specific monitoring plan, then the owner or operator shall determine the difference in concentration (∆c) using the calculation protocols outlined in the approved site-specific monitoring plan.
Calculation of Rolling Average
Within 30 days of completion of each sampling episode, the owner or operator shall determine the highest and lowest sample results for benzene from the sample pool and calculate the ∆c. If one or more samples for the sampling episode is below the method detection limit (MDL) for benzene, the following procedure is used:
(A) If the lowest detected value of benzene is below detection, the owner or operator shall use zero as the lowest sample result when calculating ∆c.
(B) If all sample results are below the MDL, the owner or operator shall use the MDL as the highest sample result.
The owner or operator will average the ∆c values collected over the 12 months prior to and including the most recent sampling episode. The owner or operator shall update this value after receiving the results of each sampling episode (rolling average).
Reporting Exceedances and Semiannual Data Submission
If the average ∆c values exceed 0.9 µg/m3 (the identified action level for benzene), a root cause analysis must be initiated within 5 days of the average calculation. The root cause analysis must be completed within 45 days of initiation. Additional details regarding the root cause analysis methodology can be found at §63.658(h).
Root cause analysis and corrective action may include, but is not limited to:
• Leak inspection using Method 21 of part 60, Appendix A–7, and repairing any leaks found.
• Leak inspection using optical gas imaging as specified in §63.661 and repairing any leaks found.
• Visual inspection to determine the cause of the high benzene emissions, and implementation of repairs to reduce the level of emissions.
• Employing progressively more frequent sampling, analysis, and meteorology (e.g., using shorter sampling episodes for Methods 325A and 325B of Appendix A of the regulation, or using active sampling techniques), or employing additional monitors to determine contributing off-site sources.
Within 45 calendar days after the end of each semiannual reporting period, each owner or operator is required to submit the following information to the US EPA’s Compliance and Emissions Data Reporting Interface (CEDRI) that is accessed through the US EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX; www.epa.gov/cdx). The owner or operator need not transmit this data prior to obtaining 12 months of data.
The data management requirements outlined in 40 CFR Part 63.658 for fenceline monitoring at petroleum refineries cover all aspects of sample management, analysis, and reporting. Awareness of the requirements and the ability to manage them effectively will reduce the costs of compliance with the regulation and assure timely submittal of data to the regulatory agency.
US EPA Proposes UCMR 4 Chemical List and Methods
The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) amendments require that once every 5 years the US EPA issue a new list of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored by public water systems.
The fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) was proposed on December 11, 2015, at 40 CFR Part 141. The proposal outlines monitoring for 30 chemical contaminants between 2018 and 2020 using analytical methods developed by US EPA and consensus organizations.
UCMR monitoring provides a basis for future regulatory determinations and, as warranted, actions to protect public health. This rule, revised every 5 years as required by SDWA, was originally designed to improve public health by providing US EPA and other interested parties with data on the national occurrence of selected chemicals in drinking water, such as cyanotoxins associated with harmful algal blooms. This data set will be one of the primary sources of information on occurrence, levels of exposure, and population exposure the Agency will use to develop regulatory decisions for emerging contaminants in the public drinking water supply.
The December 2015 proposal identifies 11 analytical methods to support water system monitoring for a total of 30 chemical contaminants/groups, consisting of 10 cyanotoxins groups; two metals; eight pesticides plus pesticide manufacturing byproducts (hereinafter collectively referred to as ‘‘pesticides’’); three brominated haloacetic acid groups of disinfection byproducts; three alcohols; and three semivolatile organic chemicals.
Information on the chemical selection process, as well as chemical-specific information (source, use, production, release, persistence, mobility, health effects, and occurrence), that US EPA used to select the proposed analyte list, is contained in ‘‘UCMR 4 Candidate Contaminants— Information Compendium’’ (US EPA, 2015). Copies of the Compendium may be obtained from the US EPA public docket for this proposed rule, under Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OW–2015–0218.
Below is a complete list of the chemicals included in the UCMR4 list, as they appeared in the Federal Register.
PFOA – Making the Front Page News Daily
As reported in The Standard, December 2014 (https://www.envstd.com/newsletters/the-standard-december-2014/), Environmental Standards chemists have seen an increasing interest in analysis of perfluorinated chemicals. Recently, the small Village of Hoosick Falls located in upstate New York has been in the news due to contamination of the municipal drinking water supply with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The situation is drawing attention to this class of compounds and New York officials are pressing US EPA to set a national water standard for PFOA and to list it as a “hazardous substance” under the Superfund law.
Accutest Hit Hard
The Accutest Laboratories (Accutest) network topped the environmental laboratory marketplace news over the last several months. Accutest announced two separate developments at its New Jersey (Dayton, New Jersey) and New England (Marlborough, Massachusetts) laboratory facilities. In November 2015, Accutest CEO Carl Schoene announced that, “Accutest’s New Jersey laboratory reached civil settlements with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the Office of the New York Attorney General. The civil settlements do not relate in any way to current laboratory practices at Accutest, and do not involve any admission of liability or wrongdoing by us.” The settlements resolved allegations that Accutest violated federal and state contracting law as a result of alleged historical practices in the extraction and semivolatile laboratories. Specifically, the United States Department of Justice and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection alleged that Accutest, between January 1, 2011 and December 13, 2013: (1) did not properly extract samples because it did not perform the required number of shakes for water samples; (2) did not wait the required amount of time between shakes of the samples; (3) did not properly spike samples with a known compound as part of the quality control process, (4) performed analyses beyond the scope of its certification, and (5) altered the settings of its gas chromatography/mass spectrometry machines and disregarded calibration protocols. Accutest agreed to pay penalties of $3M to the United States, $2M to the State of New Jersey, and $371,000 to the State of New York.
The Accutest New England (ANE) facility announced in late October 2015 that it had discovered a potential data processing issue that may have affected reported data for volatile analytical Methods 524.2, 624, and 8260B/C from January 2012 through March 2015. The announcement indicated that ANE determined that improper integrations had been performed on some reported data. Immediate corrective actions were reported to have been taken, and ANE is conducting an extensive data review and reprocessing of data. The data review effort was initially to be completed by December 31, 2015. However, an additional notice was issued to indicate the data reprocessing would extend to January 31, 2016 for Department of Defense projects; February 29, 2016 for Method 524 and 624 projects; and March 31, 2016 for Method 8260 projects.
SGS Group Acquires Assets of Accutest
On January 4, 2016, on the heels of the above announcements, the SGS Group acquired the assets of Accutest Laboratories. The SGS acquisition of Accutest significantly increases their footprint into the US environmental testing business. Accutest is now part of SGS’s Environment, Health & Safety business in the U.S. and will operate under the trade name SGS Accutest.
CompuChem Closes its Doors
CompuChem Labs in Cary, North Carolina, ceased operations in mid-January of 2016. CompuChem had a long 35-year history in the environmental testing business and was a leader in services to the US EPA Contract Laboratory Program (CLP) over the years. CompuChem indicated that, “After suffering 8 straight years of overcapacity in the environmental industry and continued pressure on operating margins, the equity holders of CompuChem have made a decision to cease operations in the environmental industry.”
Environmental Standards Principal Chemist and President David Blye, said “CompuChem was a powerhouse CLP laboratory in their day, and it’s very sad to see the lab close its doors.”
Pace Analytical Acquires Continental and ECCS
Pace Analytical Services, Inc. (Pace), acquired Continental Analytical Services (CAS) in Salina, Kansas, and ECCS in Madison, Wisconsin, in early December 2015. Pace will continue to operate a full-service laboratory in Salina which will be integrated with Pace’s laboratories in Lenexa, Kansas and Pittsburg, Kansas. ECCS will provide Pace with strong mobile laboratory and agricultural chemical testing capabilities.